Today's post is the result of a sentence in a book by Dean Brackley on discernment. In it he states that we're called to be in community with those persons and situations that make us uncomfortable, that "disturb our sleep". Hmmm, I find that there are situations of social injustice and human behavior that are currently disturbing not only my sleep, but my awake time.
The charity I founded and am running, Possibilities Journey, Inc, (www.possjrny.org) is engaged in trying to empower faith communities to return to their historic role as enablers and empowerers of healthy individual and communal behavior. One of those healthy behaviors is welcoming the downtrodden - or to put it in Christian discipleship terms, to defend the weak and challenge injustice. Most faith communities, including my own, are very far from this teaching and action.
On Monday, there was a man who came to the church. He is homeless and has both mental illness and alcohol use challenges. He is disheveled and doesn't have the best personal hygeine (primarily a lack of access issue). He asked to have something to eat (we had some cold pizza from the night before) which he welcomed. He then sat outside the Office and conversed with himself, he also took a small carpet sweeper and swept the floor. One of our Office volunteers was uncomfortable and afraid of him - she came into the office where I was having a meeting and said that the man was muttering and she was concerned for the kids in our Preschool. I pointed out that those two things had nothing to do with each other, and she became very defensive and angry with me. The Associate Pastor walked out and had a delightful conversation with the man and he ultimately went out into his day.
I have been haunted by that interaction and the level of misunderstanding of most people for those who are different in any way. Each of us has our challenges and our brokenness - most of the latter we learn to hide so that we appear to the outside world to be "perfect" or at the very least "normal". Folks with significant mental illness do not have this ability - nor do they often have the insight. In the past I have wondered why the mentally ill always seem to be angry and upset - I now have some insight myself. People treat them very poorly and get rid of them as soon as possible in order that they won't feel uncomfortable or have their sleep disturbed by them.
Our health, wellness and wholeness (HW2) is predicated on creating a healthy and whole environment (habitat?) for all persons. We are called as people of faith to care for the widow and orphan and those less fortunate - especially those that disturb our sleep. What or whom disturbs your sleep today? What are you being called to do about it? Come join the discussion with Possibilities Journey. It is not a smooth road that we travel, but it is a vitally important one.